The more astute reader of CS Lewis knows he was a professor first, a lay theologian second. Where then to find him in his element but in book reviews about literature? The book is more exciting than that sentences makes it out to be. The reviews and observations are quite instructive. They run the gamut between English pedagogy, his Inkling friends, medieval studies, and English literature in general.
Lewis indirectly gives us a pattern for doing good book reviews.
- Broadest survey of the author’s scope
- Hints at agreement (or disagreement), to be developed later.
- Addresses possible inaccuracies.
- Analyzes the main theme.
The Idea of an English School
Main idea: are the origins of English literature to be found in the classics? Lewis, rather, suggests they are found in Old French literature.
Our English Syllabus
We educate to produce “the good man.” For Aristotle and Milton, this meant the man of “good feeling” and “good taste.”
On Tolkien: These books are “like lightning from a clear sky.” “Nothing quite like it was ever done before.” “The names alone are a feast;” they can be Hobbit-like or kingly.
Tolkien and the Dethronement of Power: The Two Towers. Tolkien rejects relativism and holds to absolutes. Of course. Not all of the characters are strictly black and white. Boromir was an obvious example. Even “Heroic Rohan and imperial Gondor are partly diseased.”
On Charles Williams:
Review: Talesin through Logres
* The Fall: to know good and evil is, among other things, to know all unrealized possibilities, including evil ones. The danger here is that man’s knowledge is partly by experience, so to know some of these unrealized possibilities seems to imply an experience of them.
Some of the essays towards the end get quite technical concerning Middle English poetry. I will leave them to the specialist.